The Bitter Truth

Recently, the Wellness Club where I work had a discussion about the health benefits of chocolate or, more precisely, cocoa. Cocoa is truly a miracle food delivered to us through the centuries from the Aztecs and Mayans. You can read all about it here. Note the special benefits for exercisers.

The more I see people who are chronically ill or will soon be because of their lifestyles, the more sobered I am about the realistic prospects of them changing. Change is very hard, harder than maybe we know or want to admit. Certainly many people want to do it, yet few accomplish lasting change, whether it's exercising more or eating better.

If you read the psychological literature about change, you'll find people in the profession are only able to talk about it in very general terms. Basically, it boils down to you've really got to want to do it, then you need to do it. And usually it helps you to have social support, i.e., family, friends, or a social network, for the change you are attempting to make.

What gives us hope is that some people do change and the changes endure. We all know an inspiring story of the person who lost 100 lbs. or finally stopped smoking and became a marathoner, despite discouraging odds that it's very probable.

One of the enlightening moments during our discussion of chocolate came when the unwelcome fact was presented that all the amazing, healthy properties of cocoa are missing in milk chocolate. Dark chocolate, the kind with tremendous benefits to your heart and brain, is slightly bitter, although people have figured out how to make it taste pretty appetizing.

How we change is not something rational where you hear factual information then alter your behavior. The day we discussed chocolate we had four bars, three of healthy dark chocolate, and one which was milk chocolate. After passing them around so people could examine the differences on the labels, such as the huge amount of sugar contained in milk chocolate when compared to dark chocolate, we held a drawing for the bars.

The rules of the drawing were that the person whose name was drawn first would have first pick of the four bars. After giggling happily after her name was drawn and having heard all the facts regarding the health benefits of dark chocolate, she chose the one made of milk chocolate.

When it comes to health and fitness, it's as if there's a biblical predetermination to it. Wasn't there a passage that went something like many are called, but few are chosen?

Be saved. Eat dark chocolate.

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